Yoenis Cespedes is expected to return to the New York Mets lineup on Friday night as a designated hitter against the New York Yankees. The club plans to demote Dominic Smith to make room for Cespedes, according to Andy Martino.
Cespedes landed on the disabled list on May 16 with a strained right hip flexor. Prior to the injury, the left fielder was hitting .255/.316/.474 with eight home runs, a 0.7 fWAR, and a 112 wRC+. He appeared in each of the team’s first 37 games despite battling flu-like symptoms early in the year and nagging leg problems later on. After hitting just .219 in April, he had 11 hits in 34 at-bats to go along with a .973 OPS in May before the injury forced him to the sidelines.
Cespedes appeared in two rehab games last month for the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, going 2-for-4 with two doubles. He exited his second rehab start on June 9 after experiencing tightness in his right quad. He was able to restart his rehab assignment on July 18, where he took part in one simulated game and played in two games for the GCL Mets. He went 2-for-8 with a three-run home run for the GLC Mets and played nine innings at first base in his most recent game. However, Mickey Callaway has said that he expects Cespedes to play left field upon his return to the majors.
Smith has not seen consistent playing time since his June 12 promotion to the big leagues and underperformed when he found his way into the lineup. In 71 at-bats, he has collected just 13 hits to go along with a a -0.7 fWAR, a 46 wRC+, a .540 OPS, and an alarmingly high 35.1% strikeout rate. Smith also struggled defensively while splitting time between first base (-1 DRS), his natural position, and left field (-5 DRS). In 56 games for the Las Vegas 51s, Smith was hitting just .260/.343/.370.